Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Executive Decision.

Two list items for this blog post. 1 - an explanation; 2 - an executive decision.

1- Yeah, it's been a while. Between the editing gig and the job search, I've been spending nearly every waking moment on the computer. So, in my spare time, it's hard to sit down and write at the computer.

2- This past weekend, I made an executive decision about my race calendar. Most of this decision was made on my long run on Saturday. As you runners know, most internal debates that occur during long runs come in the form of a stream-of-conciousness, voices-in-your-head, back-and-forth random thoughts. I will do my best here to give you the transcript of this debate:

Ok, it's Saturday, I want to do at least 15 miles today.
But my legs feel like crap. Where did these shin splints come from?
Probably only because of the 300-ft decline in the last mile. I'll feel fine in a minute.
Ok, in 5-6 miles I'm sure I'll feel better.
I have to pick a spring marathon. Doing one in March means I have to start training, like, now.
Wow, it seems like I just finished training for New York. And, before that, Grandma's and a high-mileage summer. And before that, Boston. And before that, Tiberias.But it's time to run a spring marathon! And I want to do Boston for fun, so I need another goal race.
It's been 6 miles, and my legs still feel like shit.
And I've had time to "just run" without training.
So why do I have to run 15 miles today?
Because I have to start training. And I don't have much time, so I have to make sure the long runs are up high enough before I start my plan.
So I'm not "just running," huh?
Hmm, I guess not.
So, even though I feel like crap, probably shouldn't be doing a long run, I'm doing one anyway. Not because I "want" to, but because I "have" to because I "have" to start training again.
Erm... I guess... I have no good answer for that. Hang on, if I just stop (again) to stretch, maybe then I'll feel better.
Let's make a deal - double digits, but not 15.
Fine. Deal. I guess I haven't really had a lot of time to "just run." An maybe the reason it's been so hard to commit to a race and a training plan is because I'm not really ready to start training again.
There will be fall marathons. The 3:10 will be there. But I have had a long year of running. I need to "just run" for a while longer.
I give the same advice to everyone else. If it's not fun, it's not worth forcing. I do feel great running lately, though.
So I can continue to feel great not training. I can give myself a break.
Hey, I'm feeling a little better now. Not 15 miles better, but I think I can manage 12.
Why 12?
Because I WANT to. Might as well take advantage of the fact that my legs feel good now!
Sounds good to me.

So, long story short. I have decided not to do a spring goal race. I'll see how I feel in a month to decide if I want to train for Boston or leave it as a fun race - probably still the latter. And I will focus on just running for now. Maybe some shorter stuff, just getting into the vibe of the new running team this winter,  And pick a kick-ass fall goal race.

I have ALSO decided, to completely throw myself into this "just running" thing, that until the first of the year, I will not be logging or tracking my runs or other workouts. I will admit that I will still wear my Garmin and record the data (because, let's be honest, it will kill me to have blanks in my training log and especially not to know how many miles I run this year), but I will not be peeking at it until Jan. 1.

And hopefully I'll be writing more :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tapers and races and new goals, oh my!

Today: 9 miles in 1:13:59

1. I'm in full-on taper madness. 12 days until NYCM! This means I'm overly hyper about creaks and phantom pains, keep waffling about my goal time and race strategy, and all that good stuff. Although, the more marathons I do, the less I find myself obsessing over race logistics. Maybe that has more to do with the fact that I know New York City, I'm not dealing with any unknowns travel-wise, and I know what to expect from the expo, the starting line, and the finishing line based on the fact that I've run this marathon before.

2. Although my legs aren't completely full of creaks anymore and I have felt a slight spring to my step yesterday and today, I'm still waiting for the taper to do its thing to rest up my legs while maintaining the fitness I've gained over the past 12 weeks - indeed, longer than that, if you count all the slow-ass base-building miles I've been doing since May (!!)

3. I realize I haven't posted here in a while. I've been doing a lot more journaling - like the old-fashioned, pen-to-paper kind - and that fulfills some of my "must write" outlet that this blog gives me.

4. I was told the other day (yesterday?) that I seem more "bubbly" since coming out to San Fran. I think that might be the first time anyone has used that word to describe me. I think I like it. Something about this place fits me. I really think the fresh air and the ocean and the beautiful scenery and the pace of life and the people out here settle me. I'm high-strung and OCD enough on my own; it's nice to be surrounded by that which is not.

5. Reasons why having a Ph.D. doesn't make me a genius: last night I ran errands and could only find parking on a street where cleaning this morning started at 7. So, I had to get up early to move it - it actually made for a lovely morning because I spent sunrise at the beach - and parked it back in front of my building. Great, except it's the 4th Wednesday of the month, which means, guess what? Street cleaning from 12-2. Which I have marked diligently on my calendar to remind me. Of course, it helps to look at the calendar every once in a while (and not just the day planner). I saw the ticket after my run today - $55 to the man for being an idiot.

6. I always start having my post-marathon visions of grandeur at about this stage of the taper. I'm trying not to go too overboard with my planning. I do know that a-if NYC doesn't go as planned, I won't wait until Houston for a back-up, I'll probably register for Tucson instead so I'm not training for ANOTHER 2 months. I want to do the half in Houston and have a fun weekend with friends and not a stressful one. b-I want to focus on getting back into a strength routine and leaning up before training for Boston. I bought some kettlebells that my trainer-friend Chris is going to virtually help me learn how to use. I also think I will cut back to 6 days/week running and start swimming again on the off-day. There are public pools in the city that are $3-5 to use. I also am debating starting to run with a club. There are tons here - some more social and some more serious. I think I'm at a point in my running "career" that being around runners who are better than me to really push me would be a huge help. One of my friends out here is on a woman's racing team, which she likes, and that would fill that criteria.

7. My online running friends are starting to plan their 2012 race calendar, and it's super exciting to think about next year, but it also makes my head spin a bit because I'm not 100% sure where I'm going to be or what I'm going to be doing then. I know, technically, I never KNOW, but it's kind of weird to plan without a plan. The other problem is that I'm not financially in a place to be shelling out registration fees quite yet for races a year away. I guess what I should do is map out my general running goals and then figure out which races to do. I definitely want to do a spring and a fall marathon. I'm registered for Boston, so barring a decision to run that for fun and do a smaller goal marathon, that will be spring's race. Fall - who knows? I'm tempted to do Chicago and register for back-up a few weeks later in case the weather sucks. I definitely think I can still knock off time from my marathon PR this year, but it will mean a little more "big picture" focus instead of just winging it like I did last year. Maybe 4 marathons is not the way to go.

8. If I get to run on the beach in the morning, I always see this old guy all bundled up in a hooded sweatshirt, the hood tight around his face, under a windbreaker jacket. He always says - no, yells - "good morning" when we pass each other. Even though I'm expecting it now, it still scares the shit outta me. I'm all for greeting those around me, but I'm usually not yelling. It's nice, though.

9. I will be flying to NYC a week from today. Holy crap.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Random running observation

My heart rate for my half marathon was low. Way low. Averaged 171 for a 7:08 pace, max of 178. This is my marathon pace heart rate, people.

I know, I'm getting around to realizing this a few days late, but I was kind of depressed about my 1:34 time and didn't want to look at the splits. My Garmin cradle is being wonky and will allow me to charge (thank goodness) but not to upload, and I'm just now going through my splits. But I digress...

I knew my legs were my limiting factor on Sunday, but I didn't realize by how much. I knew my cardio felt fine. I'm not really sure what this means I should do between now and NYC. Just trust the taper will get me the rest I need? Switch from wearing Kinvaras to trainers, which are kinder on my calves?

Great, one more thing to have to analyze between now and race day. And no more chances for tune-up races...

Edit: adding info about my pre-race running:
All the nitty-gritty deets are on the sidebar --->
I wouldn't call it a taper, really, but I did cut out some of the miles Pfitz wanted me to do that week. My 7-day total pre-race was around 64, after having been at 75+ for a while.

In comparison, before my PR half last December, which was also 4 weeks out from a goal marathon, my 7-day total pre-race was 60, after having been only in the high 60s/low 70s. That week looked like this:

R-14.4 MLR
F-6.4 R
S-20.8 LR
M-10 w/ 5x600
T-10.1 R
W-6.25 R
R-6.9 R + Aussie carb load run

And as for the shoe comment: I've worn the Kinvaras during several halves this summer, all of which were disastrous because of the heat. I've also worn them on tempo runs and MP runs. I would say that I'm always aware of my calves to some extent in them, and in fact starting wearing my CEPs with them for this reason, which helps but doesn't prevent. I think the pace that feels the best in them is actually MP and not the faster paces.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Controlling tendencies

On my hellacious recovery run today (6 miles in almost an hour, don't make me go check my Garmin), on which my legs weren't exactly sore from yesterday's half but just felt like they had aged about 100 years and the wind blew the rain sideways into my face, I got thinking about how much of my life is out of control right now, but I am in control of more than I think. So, today's list comprises 6 things over which I have complete control.

1. The mood in which I wake up. It is a decision and one I make before my feet hit the ground. I can choose to be happy, crabby, lazy, motivated. Why not choose good things?

2. How I partition my day - whether that means setting a schedule or letting it be open, knowing what will help me feel the most productive and balanced (usually the former). Also choosing to focus on my tasks and close down the internet windows of distraction (FB, RWOL, etc.) Why not choose that which will make me feel good about how I spend my time?

3. What goes into my mouth and how much of it. In that vein, what I choose to buy at the store or restaurant, knowing what my triggers are, and not allowing myself to feel guilty. Why not choose what is best for my body and running while allowing myself to enjoy food?

4. Who I interact with, and why, and the conversations I need to have in order to process what's going on in my head. Why not seek out those whose advice I value, who can make me laugh, who challenge me, and who love me?

5. The running and other workouts and activities I do to not only become a better runner and meet my running goals, but to feel good inside and out. Being physical is directly linked to my mental state, as is the sleep I get and giving myself time to relax. Why not choose to take advantage of that and move my body when I need to and rest it when I need to?

6. Above all, how I react to that which I cannot control. And how I react to all the sensory inputs (too nerdy??) that could affect how I live my life. Why not allow everything to enter, but only some things to stay - those things which I can use in my control to live the life that I want to live?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sitting in the sun at a Stanford/CU game is a perfect thing to do the day before a half marathon... right?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The voices in my head.

Thoughts from today's run (10 in 1:24:37)

1. I love how a morning rain makes everything clean, even the sunlight.

2. I should probably slow down a bit, I want to have a strong run but I also have a half on Sunday that I want to do well in so it's a good indicator of my fitness.

3. Finding out you've been lied to has to be one of the worst feelings in the world.

4. Why is it that not even lying is simple: that the act of lying does not necessarily negate the situation and reasoning behind it? Not that it's EVER right, but it's never black and white, either.

5. Seriously, slow down, legs. Heart.

6. I think people in San Francisco have a harder time with the "walk right, pass left" concept than New Yorkers do, and they're pretty bad. That, and the inability to realize your dog doesn't consider its leash; therefore, if you're on one side of the path and the dog is on the other side with the leash extending in between, it is YOUR job, not your dog's, to solve this problem.

7. I exiled myself from Facebook in order to let my own voice be heard in my head, and not so many others. It has less to do with anyone externally and more to do with the fact that I get sucked in and it becomes a black hole of my time and energy. It's very freeing, in fact. Not that I don't find other distractions, but I have felt more productive in the last 2 days than I have in the last 2 weeks in a lot of ways. Because I'm back in control. (Although, I forgot what settings I have on here, it might automatically post to FB. In which case, if you comment on FB, I won't see it until I decide to return. So comment on the blog itself if you have something to tell me :) )

8. I've been doing really well with the no-dessert-no-weekday-drinking rule (it's actually pretty easy if you're poor), but I think the emotional eating I've been doing of late has probably counteracted all the good it's done me.

9. I didn't have this thought on my run, but later in the day, as I was walking along the beach as the sun was going down, listening to the waves and feeling them enter my soul, that all I've got is me. All I can count on is me and my own judgement and my own goals and desires. Despite everything, I don't think I've done a bad job so far - I actually trust myself to lead me in the right direction and do what I know I need to do to make me happy. That is the voice I need to reconnect with. And it feels good. Not that other people aren't involved in me listening to that voice (I'm not becoming a hermit and I do need my friends and family more than ever), but it feels good to have a lot of "me time" right now.

10. If i didn't have a half on Sunday, I probably wouldn't be done running.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Posting while hungry.

20 for today's 20 in 2:38.35

1. I am totally jazzed about my run today. It is the best MP run I can ever remember having. Ever. I averaged 7:24 for 12 miles, including my typical slow start. Splits, for those who care: 7:36, 7:26, 7:27, 7:29, 7:18, 7:20, 7:18, 7:20, 7:25, 7:21, 7:22, 7:20)

2. I wouldn't say the MP miles were comfortable, exactly - and they're certainly not supposed to be. But they felt good, in that "I'm running fast and hard but I don't want to die" kind of a way. There were even a few times I looked down and saw 6:xx on my Garmin and had to rein myself in a bit.

3. I was only supposed to do 17 miles. But I did 20. I had planned on a 2-mile cool down, but tagged on 3 extra to make it an even 20. Because of juggling with Reach the Beach and trying to get this MP run in, I had lost a 20+ run along the way. And, if I end up doing a tune-up half marathon next weekend, that blows my chance there for another long run. I'll do 22 3 weeks out as my last pre-taper run, but it's always nice to get in another 20-miler. The 12-week Pfitz program is so compact that there's not a lot of room for too many long runs, especially with all the MP workouts. For me, long runs are more a mental game than anything else, telling my body it can be out there for hours so that during the race, I know what 20 miles feels like. Granted, after 9 marathons, I've done 20+ miles a few times, but I think they're still a huge part of training.

4. I better make these list items shorter if I ever hope to get through 20.

5. I totaled up my mileage for the week: 85.7-a new PR. I don't feel like I've run if-I-round-up 90 miles. And they weren't slow miles - they included a tempo run and today's MP run. I don't know what I expected - but my legs certainly aren't ready to fall off.

6. I'm sure it helps that I can make sleep and recovery and rest a priority. 8 hours per night, making sure I'm fueling and not running around like a crazy person all day - things that I hate as a person but love as a runner.

7. On that note, I'm trying to make my days a bit more structured. A week has passed since I've landed in my San Fran nest, and it's amazing how the days just pass if I'm not careful.

8. I'm not exactly making myself a tight schedule, but I have been writing out a list of the times during the day I want to focus on the job search, on my editing gig, on internet-time-wasting, on running, on making sure I get out of the house and explore where I am. It's helped over the past couple days.

9. I'm also making it a goal to write in my journal 30 minutes first thing in the morning, as I'm drinking my coffee and eating my peanut butter toast. This was a suggestion by my mom - aren't moms the best for knowing you sometimes better than you know yourself and what will help you?

10. She suggested it when we were talking after I found out that I didn't get the job I had interviewed for out in Boston. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn't a devastating piece of news. I had other nibbles, it's not like I HAD to have THAT job, but rejection is rejection, even if I know academically speaking that it wasn't personal, yada yada yada.

11. It got me questioning if I'm qualified enough for the jobs I'm looking for, and how to best re-focus my search with a new angle to get my foot in the door. I haven't given up, even though part of me wanted to just say "fuck it" and apply at a running store or something, but after a few pointed career-oriented phone calls with people in the biz on Friday morning, I'm feeling re-energized and re-focused.

12. So, while it wasn't exactly a melt-down, it was definitely a "call your mother" moment. It's amazing how things can snowball from a rejection I really wasn't surprised about into finding myself thinking about the fact that I can't answer the "where do you see yourself in 5 years" question. Not even a little bit.

13. And maybe that's ok. Or maybe I have to be ok with that. There have been many times throughout my life when I thought I knew the answer to that question, and my life now certainly doesn't resemble what I thought. And I don't feel bad about that at all. So, maybe it's ok not to have the answer when the answer is meaningless, anyway.

14. I have found myself thinking a lot about my friends scattered across the country and the world. And how I'm not always the best at being in touch and keeping up on emails and phone calls and everything. I never have been, which is strange, because I've always had friends all over the place. I know part of what makes my good friends so dear to me is that we can go a long time without speaking and then once we do, it feels like no time has passed at all. But I shouldn't take that for granted and have that be the norm. It's hard for me to reach out sometimes, or to realize how much time has passed since the last email - so I'm officially apologizing and wanting to do better :)

15. I'm hungry.

16. I get to have a fancy-schmancy dinner tonight with two amazing couples and one amazing lady. I've met some pretty terrific people through running and I'm looking forward to spending the evening wining and dining and laughing!

17. Um, so, 4 more things to say. Did I mention I'm hungry?

18. Oh, my no-sweets, no-weekday-drinking thing is making the scale move in a fabulous direction. Even with a couple of cheats along the way!

19. Oh! Yesterday I got myself on the bus and trekked to Chinatown and North Beach for an afternoon of aimless wandering. I love exploring new places this way - I think after living in NYC, I realize the best way to get to know a city is to just wander. No guidebooks, no destination, just pick a neighborhood and go. I found myself in the middle of the Chinese markets, where, as in NYC, I felt like I had been transported to China. North Beach had restaurants and shops galore, and felt vibrant and happy. I see myself heading back again and again. But of course, there were other neighborhoods I saw from the bus window that also beckon! Not to mention my own little world around the apartment.

20. Ok, this is really ridiculous. I thought I could make it until dinner, but I need a snack.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My boring blog post.

I am currently planted on my friend L's futon in her UES apartment watching football and recovering from not just yesterday's festivities, but my entire crazy week. I'll recap:

1. Last weekend, I had an amazing time running the Reach the Beach relay with my awesome online running friends. We distance runners are usually so focused on our individual races that it's a real treat to be a part of a team. Even though there is so much camaraderie to be had at normal races, with the pre- and post-run get-togethers, there's such a different feeling to being part of a team. You don't want to be the member who doesn't match the effort and speed of your teammates - dropping sub-MP paces the entire 32 miles was possible only because all of my awesome teammates were doing the same.

2. We had zero idea of "how" to run this relay - no one had ever done an ultra version before, and we all basically assumed we'd be around MP due to the number of miles we all had to run - between 28 to 40. The two guys on the team happened to lead us off with some killer legs, and the ladies couldn't let them down. As each of us continued to run faster than what we thought, I think all of us were kind of waiting for the wall to come past which our sleep-deprived bodies would slow us down. And of course we did slow a bit, but not nearly as much as I was expecting. Not even close. I'm so impressed and proud of us!

3. Our final time was 23:32:33, a pace of 7:21 min/mile - 38th overall and 1st mixed ultra team! The win was truly icing on the cake - we didn't even think about it as we were running so it was a fun perk to add to our excitement after the race.

4. After the race, I stayed with my friend V and her family in lower Manhattan. It was great to hang out with her, as always, and get to know her 2-year-old son. Yes, it's possible to get to know a 2-year-old, although we're not quite up to having hear-to-hearts yet :)

5. As I was on the bus on the way to Boston for the relay, I made a phone call to one of the companies I had had a phone interview with for a west coast-based position. The company is based in Boston, so I had emailed saying I would be out East if it would be possible to arrange a face-to-face interview. I had been unsure about making the call, because I'm trying to walk the line of being assertive but not desperate, but I finally decided it couldn't hurt. I'm definitely glad I did - even though it meant having to bus back to Boston for a quick 24-hour trip. Special thanks to Sully and his roomie for letting me crash on their couch so as to avoid 2 bus trips in one calendar day.

6. Obviously I can't say much about the interview, but I think it went well. It was almost anti-climactic due to all the traveling around I had to do for it because it was pretty relaxed. They're trying to fill the position fast so hopefully I'll hear something this week!

7. Yesterday, two of my grad-school friends got married. I had such a great time celebrating this awesome couple - a couple I have known since the beginning of their relationship. The wedding was at 10:30 am, which no one had experienced before. It was a bit strange to be drinking and dancing in broad daylight, but we quickly got over it ;-) It was a great time, and a bit of a grad school reunion. In the interest of full disclosure, I invoked the "special occasion" clause of my no-sugar diet and had some wedding cake. And I don't feel guilty at all, not even a little bit.

8. The wedding and reception were in the Bronx, but the wedding hotel was in Rye, NY. Putting a bunch of Manhattanites on a party bus to Rye and then congregating them all in the hotel bar is a pretty funny scenario. Of course, it wasn't so much about the "where" as it was about the "who," so we had ourselves a good ol' time. The "where" only became important when we realized we had to, um, get home somehow. Putting a bunch of Manhattanites in Rye without first calculating the cost of car service to get back is also quite the picture.

9. In between all this traveling and partying, I have been running. This week was kind of screwed up because of the relay; I wanted to keep the miles up but I also knew I'd have to really listen to my body to give it whatever recovery it would want after the race. That meant cutting a few miles off each run in the beginning of the week, especially because my right hamstring was a bit crabby. My runs were all slowwww and, to be honest, kind of torturous. I didn't feel good, but I knew that it was only a matter of time before I'd get my legs back, and that by taking it easy and running everything at recovery pace would only shorten that time.

10. I moved my long run to Friday because of the early wedding. The chance to run in Central Park is always a motivator for me, although as I started, the 90% humidity really made it hard for me to wrap my mind around doing 20 miles. I started out slow and slogging, once again resigning myself to the fact that I wasn't totally recovered. But then, it started raining. The second half of the run was in the torrential downpour, and I loved every second of it. My legs did, too, and I was able to drop the paces into my proper MLR zone and feel great doing it. My hamstring didn't talk, and I finished soaked and renewed.

11. My Garmin cradle is being fussy and I think I have to send it in for a new one. This means I can't upload and I can't charge. I'm dreading what this means: Timex.

12. I ran 6.5 this morning. I'm supposed to get out for another 4. The couch is super comfortable though....

13. This is kind of a boring post. I guess I'm not feeling very deep or humorous today. I blame the Vikings - I was super motivated to write a blog but got about halfway through and decided to give up.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Crazy going slowly am I

19 for yesterday's 19 in 2:41.25

1. There's been a lot of chatter on my FB wall about dreading long runs. I honestly LOVE them. There is absolutely nothing like the feeling of hitting that groove where you feel like you can just run forever - and actually keep on running for (almost) ever. I was on such a high after this run - that's the high I miss when I'm not marathon training. It's a high that is different than that I get after a hard workout or a shorter, faster run. I think it's a high that just makes me feel like me.

2. This past week has been a whirlwind of activity, but it all turned out to be for the best, I think:

3. A group of my RWOL buddies are running the Reach the Beach relay next weekend. At the time they were planning, I was still abroad and couldn't commit, but it definitely made me want to run one of these relays someday. This particular relay runs 200 miles across the state of New Hampshire, taking 24+ hours to complete, and you hang out with your teammates in passenger vans in your hungry, smelly, sleep-deprived awesomeness. There are teams of 12, running 3 legs and ~15 miles total, or teams of 6, running 6 legs and ~33 miles total. In a sad twist of fate (see #4), one of my friends was no longer able to make it, and the 6-person team was down a player. I was debating flying back East, anyway, for a wedding of 2 grad school friends in NYC the following weekend, so after some deliberation and hemming and hawing, I signed up!

4. The friend whose place I'm taking cannot make it because her husband was in a terrible sky-diving accident. He's undergone several surgeries and is improving, but please keep them in your thoughts and hearts.

5. So, now I had a weekend of relay racing madness, a week "off," and then a weekend of NYC wedding madness. I'm still waiting if that week "off" will include a couple interviews, but that remains to be seen.

6. So, minor detail: from where do I fly for this trip? Do I drive to Tucson, back to my parents, and continue the job search from there after my trip? Do I fly in and out of San Fran, leave my car with my cousin, and then drive back to Tucson? Do I buy a one-way trip because I don't know when/where to return? The logistics began to give me a headache.

7. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I really want to be stable for a while, at least long enough to make the job search my main focus. I have really loved being able to travel and visit people, which obviously I can continue to do, but it's not helping me focus.

8. Furthermore, job searching from Tucson makes no sense. There are exactly zero jobs I would take there. However, there are tons of jobs in the Bay Area. I can't hang out with my cousin and her family forever; I'm not willing to commit to a lease on a place on the chance that an opportunity arises outside of the area. But I want to put myself here because it is at least a place where there is a chance I end up, unlike Tucson.

9. To Craigslist I went, with the search terms "sublet/temporary rentals." I promptly found about a bazillion ads that went something like this:

Hi! I am [traveling for an internship/moving in with my bf/pissed off my roommates and got thrown out] and you can have my awesome room near [UCSF/the projects/the middle of nowhere] for [an extravagant amount of money, but it's ok because it's furnished/almost no money, what do you mean San Jose isn't in San Francisco?]. The room is great, here is a grainy, wide-lens angled photo. There is a shared EVERYTHING, but it's ok because my 12 roommates are awesome and laid-back and clean and there isn't any drama ever even though they're all 22-yo students I SWEAR. okthxbai xoxo.

10. Um, no. I am too old for the crazy-Craigslist-roomie thing.

11. But THEN I saw it - the post of my dreams - and it was love at first sight. A 1-br located 7 blocks from the beach and 2 from Golden Gate Park, being sublet for a month while its owner was traveling. Its SOLE owner.

12. After a few email conversations with said owner, we agreed I would come to see the place the following day. I left the address with my cousin and on FB, visions of the 9-o'clock news headlines dancing in my head, and drove to the apartment. The resident is the sweetest middle-aged French-Algerian woman, and we hit it off right away. Half the rent later, I was in! I have a home for October! She leaves for her trip the same day I come back from mine; she wanted a non-student, someone quiet who won't be hosting raves; she said she got "good vibes" from my email and from our meeting. She was as excited as I was. It feels SO GOOD to have a place to call "home" for a month, feel stable, and plan the next step in peace and without any time pressure.

13. The location is awesome for running. I'm especially excited about that, as it will be the month pre-NYCM, and I'll be doing that. A lot.

14. Nothing new on the job-front. I'm feeling my way around the protocol for how much follow-up is too much. Following a phone interview, if I am told they are interested in a face-to-face and they'll be in touch soon, what does "soon" mean? I sent the obligatory thank-you email and sent emails to 2 that have east coast-based offices to notify them that I'll be out there. Is no response bad? Does soon mean weeks? I have no idea.

15. Running-wise, I'm feeling great. My legs have finally awakened from their summer hibernation. I'm sure the side-effects of unemployment have helped: ample time for sleep, no days of hectic running around, not having to get up early to get the miles in, etc. Don't hate me too much, I'd much prefer being employed and stressed AND running, but I'm trying to at least look on the bright side here.

16. I am really excited to be going to NYC. Today of all days, I feel the New Yorker in me very strongly. If I didn't have this trip coming up, I'd feel almost homesick for the city. I wasn't even in NYC yet on 9/11 - I was still in college - but I still feel the solidarity of this day in that city. <3

17. I have been all kinds of excited about football this weekend. After living abroad for 2 seasons, I'm wondering how I survived. I love this game. I had to search out the Vikings game this afternoon, found myself alone at a sports bar surrounded by annoying 49er and Charger fans, and was just so giddy to be able to watch FOUR games at ONE TIME! On screens that weren't my laptop displaying whatever crappy pirated streaming broadcast I could find.

18. Tomorrow is the first day of registration for the Boston marathon. I don't know if I want that to be my goal spring race, I don't know if I can afford it, but I know I'll regret it if I can't go. What a dilemma.

19. I have had more than a couple beers and am trying to make myself run at midnight sporting my new headlamp, red blinkies, and reflective vest in order to have at least one attempt at some semblance of training for RTB. Oof.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The times, they are a-changin'

I normally don't channel Bob Dylan - not exactly my style (even though he is from MN!) - but that line popped into my head as I sat down to write. It goes along with the following quote I rediscovered on my FB profile:

It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.
~Alan Cohen

With all the change going on in my life, I've been thinking a lot about what it is, exactly, that I want. So, in honor of this weekend's 19-miler, a list of 19 things that I want. Some of these are things I want, like, yesterday; some are more long-term. I know "getting what you want" isn't the be-all-end-all of happiness, so I guess they can be considered general life goals - ideas of where I'd like to go in life with the understanding that things can change in a heartbeat and nothing is guaranteed. But, for me right now, these are the most tangible things I can hang onto while everything else spins around me.

19 miles in 2:35.09; 4 up, 10 @ 7:33 (~MP), 5 down

1. I'll start with the running-related stuff. The most immediate goal: sub-3:15 at NYCM in November.

2. Secret running goal? 3:0x. It would be a lot to ask for November, but it's close enough that I want it. I never thought I'd be this fast - ever. I still remember when I thought running a BQ 3:40 was like lightening speed for me. If I can do 3:15 in NYC, I'd love to focus on a 3:10 for spring.

3. On that note, I really feel my mental game is off right now, running-wise. I still don't have the confidence to be running near-7 paces for a half. I look at those times and think they're for a different runner. Not for me. I don't know if it's my emotional winter/spring, my slow summer miles, or what, but I need to switch my focus on running and be less passive about its role in my life. I always want it to be fun and a positive part of my life but not just something that I do halfway.

4. On THAT note, I've been giving a lot of thought about my diet and nutrition, and want to get things under control there. I hesitate even bringing this up, because I know I don't have to lose weight and that I already eat quite healthfully. For me, it's less about a number on a scale and more the mindless eating and sweet tooth that gets out of control that has always been something I want to control and always been something I haven't because it's hard and I no longer always want it to be there. Of course, the added benefit of being speedier by dropping a few pounds isn't a bad perk. It's two months 'till race day. I'm saying it here, out loud: bye-bye desserts (although I do reserve the right for a bite of yours here and there). In one month, I may add alcohol to the list (at least more than one of them at a time and on weekdays). Like I said, I know I don't have to do this. But, part of me feels like I need to right now. I'm not going on some crazy diet, I'm not going to cut calories to the point I can't train well - that is, after all, the number one priority - but I just need to get things under control. So, please no "you're crazy/be careful/why would you do that" comments. If you know me, you know I'm nowhere disorder-land.

5. I want to find a job. No secret there :)

6. I want to point my career in the direction I want it to go. My post-doc was something I did because I know it wouldn't hurt me - it gave me more lab experience and publications, so it did, in fact, help me - and because it got me to the place I wanted to be at the time. I don't regret it, but it makes me realize how much I want the next job decision to be about what is best for me. That includes location, but more so in the vein of putting myself in a good place for job AND life opportunities. I can't be in a place with only one biotech company in a 200-mile radius. Both career-wise and socially, I need to be in a vibrant place with lots of choices and places to potentially be. Having been in a place where I had nearly zero options other than what I was doing at the time was exhausting, and trying to switch paths in such an environment would be nearly impossible.

7. I want to be able to be passionate about what I do, but also not have it control my life and dictate the kind of lifestyle I want. That is, "work to live" rather than "live to work."

8. I don't want to settle just because I'm impatient about finding a job.

9. I want to be financially secure. I have been poor for-ev-er. I have amazing parents who will make sure I am never in trouble, but it is tiring to have to worry about it. I am looking at my ever-diminishing savings and hate that it may dictate when I have to drive myself to Tucson to stay with them. I am probably even less fiscally responsible than I should be, but traveling will always be a weakness of mine. I'm not buying shoes or purses or designer jeans; I don't even dream about a fancy car or a huge house. Just let me travel. And eat well along the way.

10. I want to surround myself with people I love. I can very easily pull into myself and pretend I'm ok not reaching out and being a hermit. But this traveling and constant presence of friends and family reminded me that my soul needs those relationships. I want to be in a place where those relationships exist and can be nurtured. And I never want to take them for granted.

11. Speaking of relationships. I have been lucky enough to have spent each and every one of my visits with amazing couples at different stages of their relationships. Couples who love each other and have amazing dynamics; who have been through the best and the worst together and look at each other like no one else exists. It is heartwarming to witness this. Yeah, I want this. I am ready for this.

12. I want to be better at telling the people in my life that I love and cherish them. This is probably a function of that same "pulling into myself" characteristic - the "opening up and being vulnerable" thing has never been a strong point of mine and certainly didn't help in my last relationship. I will start now: to everyone reading this, you have touched my life in a way that I am eternally grateful for, be it big or small, and I love you for that.

13. I want to find a better balance in my life between living for the moment and dreaming about the future. Between instant and delayed gratification. I usually find myself wanting the things I want RIGHT NOW, instead of enjoying and learning from the journey that brings me to them. Maybe I want things to be too easy.

14. I want to always remember what I said before: that things can change in a heartbeat and nothing is guaranteed. It was a shock to learn this the hard way.

15-19. I'm not sure I can do 5 more on this list, after all. They would be sort of inane things, anyway, like cutting down computer time (ha!) and reading more for fun (which I could do with less computer time) and blogging more (trying!).

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The 13 reasons I have apparently failed at blogging lately, which are 13 of the reasons I should have been writing all along.

For today’s 13 in 1:48.54. I will resume with humor in the next post :)
1.     I have been homeless since August 3rd and travelling as follows: MN-MKE-CHI-MAD-SD-COL-UT-NV-CA.
2.     All that time on the road leaves little time for blogging, although plenty of time to confront each and every one of my thoughts from every angle. I thought I would journal and write about my trip more, but the self-therapy by just meditating on the open road seems to have taken the place of pen-to-paper (or fingers-to-keyboard).
3.     Every time I sit at the computer, it’s to edit or to job search. These are basically never-ending tasks, so the blogging gets put aside because there are so many other things I could be doing that are seemingly more productive.
4.     When I have had spare time, I have really tried to be focused on the people and places around me, rather than blogging about it. I have reconnected with so many people, friends and family alike, and I’ve cherished the quality face-time I’ve had with people all along my travels.
5.     I have finally embraced this opportunity to travel and visit so many people. It’s hard for me, being such a planner, to not know when the end-point is, when I’ll get a job and exit this limbo stage, but I am appreciating it. The hardest thing about my mobility has been realizing how much I want to be still. It’s hard moving through other peoples’ lives when I don’t have a home base.
6.     I’ve been thinking about what I would want in an ideal world, and there are so many contradictory answers to that question. There are so many people and opportunities in so many different places that I can’t have everything I want. It’s hard to know what the most important pieces are sometimes.
7.     I sometimes wish that I didn’t have such a blank slate when it comes to my future. It’s almost as if I need someone to narrow it down for me, and then I’d be able to make a decision. Like “you will move back to NYC” or “you will try to live out West” or something. I think I get overwhelmed even knowing where to start.
8.     I had an epiphany somewhere in between Bumblefuck and Nowhere, Nevada. I forgive Ron, and the moment I realized that, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders, a weight I didn’t even know was there. I could actually physically feel it.
9.     Is it possible to want to be with someone and not know how?
10. The list of people I miss is growing ever-longer. Above all, I think that is the hardest part of this journey and the part that I want to change by finding a place to be.
11. Has anyone actually ever enjoyed a job-searching process? It is consuming my time and energy, and it is just so hard. Not that I expected it to be fun and easy, but I just feel like I’m treading water while someone who thinks they’re drowning is trying to climb on me and pull me under.
12. On to the subject at hand: running at sea level in perfectly perfect temperatures is heavenly compared to the heat and humidity of the Midwest and the elevation of the Colorado mountains. Not that I acclimated to the altitude by any means, but dropping back down made me remember what it feels like to actually run instead of slog. I am easily running a minute per mile faster here at the same effort level.
13. I have been blessed with so many wonderful people in my life, and I have been touched at so many points along this journey by this fact. It has truly made me not crumble to pieces and become overwhelmed to the point of insanity. Even people I don’t talk to often or haven’t seen along the way. I am lucky.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

This is not a list

This is an addendum. On my second run today, all 3.2 miles of it, I was thinking about what I had written about wanting to get rid of the question marks in my life and how they are taunting me. I remembered something I have tried to teach myself the last 6 months: that everything is a question mark. Even when you don't see any, and you think you have your entire life planned and all your ducks in a row, there is always at least one. And it only takes one to throw your entire life upside down. So, what's better? To not see any coming and have to deal with the shock when it does or to have so many visible ones lined up it makes you want to just scream? I've lived through the first, am living through the second, and from where I'm standing, it's kind of a toss-up.

Where did that week go?

1.  I had big plans to do an "80 for 80" post to celebrate my 80-mile week last week. Then, my Saturday post-run got all crazy-like and I didn't get around to it. It actually wasn't going to be as epic as it sounds - item 1 would have been "I ran 81 miles this week and feel great," items 2-40 would have been "I'm tired" and items 41-80 would have been "I'm hungry."

2. So, now it's another week. I am running a half marathon on Saturday in Red Wing. I really want to race it, but the weather might have other plans. I am, however, giving myself a chance and doing a major cut-back week this week. I'll maybe hit 55 miles, including the race, if I'm lucky. But, except for the recovery week post-Grandma's, I've hit 60+ every week since the end of May. Time for a 2-week lull before jumping into the training plan for NYCM.

3. In t-minus 8 days (who's counting? This girl. I'm always counting) I will be a nomad. My oh-so-concrete plan looks something like: MN-Milwaukee-Chicago (Lolla!!) - ?? - Colorado??? - ?? - San Francisco?? - Arizona??? So, um, yeah - my friends in Colorado and Cali will be getting FB messages about my upcoming Western tour (look for a '92 Camry near you). I'm not sure I'll be able to get rid of those question marks, even though they are taunting me. I am trying to embrace the freedom. It is admittedly not easy.

4. I am working with recruiters to find a job. I am to the point where I'm just kind of waiting for emails and phone calls and I'm going crazy. I've been doing some searching on my own, but I can't just send out resumes willy-nilly if I also want to work with recruiters. So, even if I find something on my own, I still have to wait for a recruiter because I have to contact them to make sure they don't have any contacts at the company with the job posting, then wait for them to respond, yada yada yada. I like being proactive, so yet another thing taunting me right now. But, I know that in the long run, it will be faster and easier to work with them, so I suppose I will be patient.

5. Oh yeah, I ran today. 6.25 in 58:27. Nice and easy, recovery-style. I'll do another 3-4 this evening. I absolutely adore double recovery days. I wasn't sure I would, but I am head-over-heels in love with them. Two runs to flush out soreness and tightness, plus sneaking in a 10-mile day without having to run 10 miles? Awesome.

6. I went with one of my dear hs friends to see U2 on Saturday. We stood for 8 hours, it poured rain, we had to deal with miserable public transportation afterward (seriously, Metro Transit, two words: bus lane. Another few words: an empty train should not depart the station when a bus-full of very tired, wet, crabby riders, who have been standing on said bus for over an hour, arrives. If it does depart, it should be because there is one immediately - not over a half hour - behind it to transport the hundreds of people waiting), but it was still one of the most awesome things I have ever experienced.

6.25. Does anyone want to pack up all my shit for me in the next 8 days?

Monday, July 18, 2011

The equator has moved.

1. Today's (tonight's) run: 11.1 miles in 1:45.10. I was all depressed at how slow this was (but I had a good reason, see #2) before I logged it and saw a similar run on the 7th done at the exact same pace, only 2 bpm slower, in much much MUCH better conditions. Hooray for not sucking (even though it was still hella slow).

2. The temperature was 88* with a dew point of 81* at the start. I mean really, is this a rain forest? I thought monkeys were going to jump out at me from the trees when I was running through a wooded section of the bike path.

3. It's fun to wring out ~8 oz. of sweat from my singlet. Also fun? Being covered in tiny, disgusting gnats. The joys of running after the sun goes down: I can't avoid those cloudy swarms that hover over the path.

4. It's a good thing I love running so much because putting up with this weather crap wouldn't otherwise be worth it. I mean, I really did like the running part of my run. My legs felt good, I was trying to be cognizant of my posture and form, and I do like running at night when the fireflies are out. But seriously, MN weather is trying to kill me.

5. Running at night is fun, but it's a vicious cycle that prevents the hope of me ever running in the am. If I get done with a run at 10, that gives me only 7-8 hours before I'd have to wake up to be early enough to beat the heat. And, I have to shower, eat, and get the endorphins down before I have any chance of sleep. Last night that took until after 12. Thank god for melatonin.

6. I have to run in the morning tomorrow because I also have to run in the evening. Thankfully, it's my only double of the week.

7. I worked out this morning at the gym of the college down the street. There is NO A/C!!! I think it's corporeal punishment. Also, if I get annoyed in gyms with normal air circulation about people wiping down the machines after they use them, you can imagine how thrilled I am when there is a 20-min-old sweat angel on the mats because it doesn't just evaporate when it's this humid. Seriously, people, gross.

8. A plea to all of you: if you don't know how to use a machine in the gym, ASK someone how to use it. There was a girl there today using the cable machines while I was on the elliptical, and I swear she is going to kill herself one day by the crazy maneuvers she was attempting with the thing. Unless I'm just completely clueless and she wants to one day be in Cirque du Soleil.

9. Apparently I'm whiny tonight. Umm... something positive... I'm trying to hit a mileage PR this week: the big 8-0 (and I'm currently restraining myself from saying something how it's just my dumb luck that this would happen the same week it's so effing hot here. FML).

10. Wanda made her road trip debut last weekend and brought me to and from Madison without so much as a hiccup. Her locks are all wonky, though: there are 2 keys, one for the locks and one for the ignition (I guess one is called a valet key, but why wouldn't the valet need to both lock AND start a car?). I cannot open the trunk or the passenger side door with the key, nor can I lock the car with the key - I have to use the inside button to lock all doors and the trunk release. And, the glove compartment won't open but I don't have the key for it. I don't know what to make of that and could imagine this is the kind of repair that would cost a stupid amount of money for something that probably could be done super easily if I knew WTF I was doing.

11. I think I'm getting sleepy.

11.1. Good night you crazy kids.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Long run list

1. I ran 16.17 miles in 2:30.12 today.
2. I felt like horseshit the first 5 miles. Creaky and like I wasn't physically capable of running fast enough to get my heart rate past 143 bpm. That's slow, btw.
3. I finally felt good at almost an hour into the run. I love it when that switch happens.
4. Then it started to rain, and I ran in a steady downpour for the last half of the run. I cursed it when it started, but then remembered that I would much much MUCH rather run in rain than I would the crappy humid pea soup sauna that has been MN weather of late.
5. I don't know if I'll get through all 16 of my list items... because....
6. My dad is currently going over my resume and some documents I have to send a recruiter...
7. And then I have to incorporate his comments into said documents and send them to said recruiter... before...
8. We drive to Owatonna to pick up Wanda.... who is....
9. My very first title-and-insurance-is-in-my-name car!
10. She's a '92 Camry with 130,000 miles on her. Watch out, I'm mobile.
11. I'm then driving directly to the Cities for a friend's bday celebration tonight.
12. Then, it's off to Madison for the weekend.
13. By Sunday night, I will have run nearly 30 miles. That's a big list. No promises ;)
14. Maybe I'll make it! My dad just sent me his comments!
15. Job, here I come! Car, here I come!
16. Cue Mary Tyler Moore theme music (if I had more time, there would definitely be a You Tube video here.
16.17. Onward!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Things that are better than 60* and sun:

1. Not a whole hell of a lot. Good thing this is a short list today.

2. Running 6.36 in 1:00.12 in said weather. Especially when that's a 20+ degree difference from the past few weeks. Omg get me out of the Midwest!

3. Having a date with my dad tonight! My mom is hosting her book group, and while there are few things as exciting as witnessing a bunch of women discussing literature and eating boxed key lime bars, especially when said women haven't seen me in ages and would "absolutely love to see [me]," according to my mom, I prefer to avoid being swarmed and instead eat Italian food with my dad.

4. I witnessed typical MN 4-way-stop behavior on my run today: both people waving frantically at each other, wanting the other person to go ahead. Seriously, I approached the intersection, ran through it, and they were still sitting there. People, it is not rocket science. There are just a few simple rules to a 4-way stop 1-the person who arrives first gets to go first. Do NOT fuck things up by "being nice" and letting others go first. 2-if there is a tie, the person on the right gets to go first. If you have to put your thumb and forefinger at a right angle to help you with this, so be it. Do NOT fuck things up by "being nice" and letting the person on your left go first. 3-The person going straight has the right-of-way to the person turning left from the opposite direction. Do NOT fuck things up by "being nice" and letting them turn in front of you. And so ends my list-within-a-list.

5. It is Wednesday. I have not worn anything except running clothes or pajamas since Sunday morning. I don't know if that's awesome or sad.

6. Blogger is doing this funky thing where it thinks the cursor is 2 inches to the right of where it actually is. It's not annoying at all.

6.36. Off for today's adventure! Later!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A new attempt.

1. I've been thinking lately about how to be more regular with my blog. I figure I should a-link it to something I do without thinking about and b-make it easy for me to write.
2. a-I run (almost) every day without thinking and b-I am a pro at making lists (and I had a lot of fun with my RR for Grandma's). So, today starts my new format: 1 list item for every mile run.
3. Today's run schedule: 90' @ 150 bpm; actual: 9.25 miles in 1:30.04, AHR 150.
4. I am feeling much faster at the lower heart rates (as in, I no longer am running 10 min+ miles), but the heat has made it hard to judge how I'm improving at pulses above 150 bpm.
5. Running today in 70*, clouds, and a bit of rain made me realize how much I hate the heat and humidity.
6. I may soon get rid of the humidity and replace it with more heat. My parents sold their MN place and are moving to AZ in time to move out of their old place and into a new place down there. Yeah, I'm confused, too. Believe me. I am trying not to play the victim about the whole thing, but it's hard because I'm ready not to be dragged along to wherever I have a free place to stay while I look for jobs. I. Want. My. Own. Place.
7. I am serious about that not-playing-the-victim thing. Realizing that's no way to live snapped me out of my post-Israel funk (or helped in a big way, anyway). It's a work-in-progress - I almost wrote above "I. Want. My. Own. Life." This IS my own life. I am CHOOSING this. I can choose something else - I am. I'm working on it.
8. I am officially done with my Israeli postdoc. It's kind of anticlimactic, and I don't know why.
9. Time really does heal all wounds. That's actually not the toughest part. Turns out, the real hard part is trusting that those wounds are healing stronger than what was there in the first place. Dealing with the scars, in the meantime, is also tough as hell. Sometimes they heal without a problem, or you can cover them up, forget them, or maybe occasionally get a glimpse of them and remember the initial insult that brought them, but you can move on and not linger there. But sometimes those scars itch and throb and demand attention, sometimes when you least expect it. But scratching them only opens them back up again, making the chance of a complete recovery impossible.
9.25. Tomorrow is a new adventure :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

30 (thoughts) for 30 (miles) for 30 (years)

30. Goals for this run: 1-finish; 2-drink beer; 3-don’t kill Chad; 4-be grateful
29. Running against all the runners coming off the buses is a great way to start out slow.
28.  The cops directing traffic like to heckle runners wearing throw-away sweats and garbage bags running the wrong way from the starting line.
27. The group of runners hanging out and preparing on the train tracks is still a mystery.
26. My tiara that said “It’s my 30th” was worth it if only for the rousing rendition of the Happy Birthday song from complete strangers in the starting corral.
25. “Please don’t rain, please don’t rain, please don't rain.” Must’ve worked, it only sprinkled a bit in the early miles.
24. It’s pretty fun to not feel the need to dodge runners in the beginning crowds in order to keep a certain pace.
23. Lesson learned: talking, laughing and quoting movie lines, song lyrics, and SNL jokes makes me run way faster than my goal 9-min-to-start pace.
22. It’s also pretty nice not to have to take splits or stare at my Garmin too much. In fact, I was more concerned with running SLOW enough, rather than fast enough. It makes looking around and enjoying the scenery much easier.
21. Damn, there are a lot of trees here.
20. We entertain ourselves by mocking the 3:50 pacer who was doing a terrible job (+/- 30 secs/mile in some cases). He was also having the group raise their arms at intervals, which made it look like everyone was going down a rollercoaster.
19. I actually got many good wishes because I wore my tiara. Yay, attention.
18. Being able to walk through the water stations is also a perk of not racing. That doesn’t still mean I’d get stuck behind some idiot who stopped dead in his/her tracks to grab the first cup of water. But I didn’t have to care!
17.  The course was actually a lot more up-and-down than we expected. Not that we studied the course map that extensively before the race. Another perk of not racing: having absolutely no clue and not caring what the course profile is.
16. Is it cheating if you snag a ride on the sweep bus if it’s actually moving slower than all the runners?
15. The views of Lake Superior are nice. You can spot the harbor with around 15 miles to go, and it’s quite mean to see the lift bridge looking very small and far away and know you have to run there. At least we’ve hit the halfway point!
14. Debated stopping and having a mimosa with the two women sitting on their deck in their bathrooms. 30 mimosas is almost like 30 miles, right? Same letter, same chance for extreme pain later?
13. Seriously, so many trees. And official highway signs for a yarn store. Where am I?
12. I felt such a push from the countless people behind me, especially my family and my RWOL friends. I could have very easily pissed people off by taking off to run a marathon during all the family-stuff that was going on after Grandma’s funeral, but because my family is awesome and supportive, they all WANTED me to go. I also know that my RWOL peeps knew how much this meant to me and the reasons why it was so important to do this. xoxo
11. Eating licorice and trying to run, talk and laugh at the same time is dangerous. Coughing up a lung is not something one wants to do during a 30-mile run.
10. The only near-death experience: I had to tell Chad to stop running a pace in front of me. Pretty good for 30 miles. Don’t kill Chad goal: check.
9. “I know I COULD drop it down and go faster, but what is the point? I don’t want to be miserable. This is a training run.”
8. That might have been near-death experience number 2 (for me, this time): telling a competitive runner to not push the pace when the end is in sight and he’s feeling good. Especially when we’re starting to pick up a lot of the carnage from those who went out too fast.
7. But it was quickly forgotten with the first beer station. And the second. I’m not sure how much beer I actually successfully drank, but everyone was really excited I was drinking it and especially that it was my birthday! Drink beer goal: check.
6. Lemondrop Hill is highly overrated. Even mores so than Heartbreak. It’s a highway overpass. If they hadn’t given it a name, I wouldn’t have even remembered it.
5. Chad was sure there would beer at the top of the hill. We had about given up hope and, in a strange turn of events, were even heckling the spectators for beer. Finally, we spotted it. I was handed a small glass and Chad was left hanging until someone just handed him a can. Where is MarathonPhoto when you need them?
4. BACON STATION!!! It’s like they knew I was coming! Cold bacon tastes surprisingly marvelous 27 miles into a 30-mile run. The thought of it now turns my stomach, but it was amazing at the time.
3. This was the most fun I’ve had in a race or a training run. I mean, there was beer and bacon involved. Oh, and a pretty kick-ass bodyguard. I am lucky to have been able to do this for Grandma and for me. Grateful goal: check.
2. Lesson learned: if you want good marathon photos, do not cry the last mile of the race.
1. Grandma, if I have even a fraction of the strength and dignity you did, I will be just fine. You will be missed and loved always.
Finish goal: check.

Monday, May 16, 2011

HR test run

Today I did my Hadd-like HR test run. This consists of 2400 m at heart rates of 140/150/160/170/180 bpm, with 90 secs rest in between. I took myself to a path I *thought* was flat, and it wasn't really, but close enough. Anyway, the results (um, click on it to actually see those numbers. Too lazy to format right now):
 The initial analysis:
* Well, I was awesome at keeping my HR where it was supposed to be!
* Running a 10:50 pace at 140 was almost not running.
* I'm not sure what to make of the entire minute between 160 and 170. I know from recent runs that that 160 pace might be a bit on the slow side from where it normally is.
* I'm still not 100% recovered from the marathon - my MP for Boston was 7:30, with an AHR of 173, so all these paces are a bit shifted.
* It felt really good to run those 170 and 180 paces, after not having done so since Boston!
* I'll do this test in another 6 weeks, after spending those weeks doing solely HR-based training. We'll see what happens!!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Focus on Form

Now that I'm back in base-building phase and running so slowly, I really want to be focusing on my form in all my runs. There are little triggers I can use while I'm actually running - the best one for me is to think of someone pulling on a string attached to the top of my head. That really gets me to keep my pelvis and core from tipping too much, and automatically gets my feet more under me, encouraging a mid-foot strike.

I've also been thinking back to my track days, when we started every practice with a warm-up and a good 15 minutes of form drills. You know, high knees, butt kicks, etc. It's been a while since college, so to refresh my memory, I found this cheesy yet helpful video on the Running Times website:

Never mind the bad jokes and the fact that this was targeted towards Master's runners. It demonstrates some of the easiest and more effective form drills that runners can do. The whole thing took me about 20 minutes in the middle of a 5 mile run. I'm an idiot and accidentally stopped my Garmin, but I did basically 2.5 miles, then the drills, then another 2.5 miles; all said, taking about an hour. After each drill, I would jog back, then do a sprint, then walk back. Honestly, each sprint felt easier and more effortless as I kept doing the drills. I'm going to try to add these in to a recovery run once a week. I look super silly doing them, especially in the middle of crowded Central Park, but they're actually kind of fun!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Let's hear it for New York

I can't believe I've been in NYC since Thursday and I haven't made it here to wax poetic about how much I adore running in this city. I've put over 30 amazing slow, easy miles on the flower-lined streets of Central Park. Running with the other people in the park, being in this beautiful place juxtaposed between nature and city, in what's been perfect spring weather to bring the trees and flowers into full bloom puts a smile on my face and a spring in my step.

Since Boston, my running has been pretty unstructured, purposefully so. I ran zip-zilch-nada from Boston Monday to Easter Sunday, when I got out for just over 2 miles before the Easter eating commenced. My legs were confused, sore, and sluggish. Monday's 5 went slightly better, but it definitely took a few days of easy running for my legs to feel any semblance of normal again. I didn't have a mileage goal in mind in the first week back running, so I was pleasantly surprised to hit 31.5 fairly easily, ending with a 10-miler on Saturday. I think the key was taking every run nice and easy, paying close attention to my pulse to make sure it didn't get much above 150.

With Grandma's fast approaching, and NYC on the horizon in November, I've decided to take this spring/summer to do some heart rate-based, Hadd-like base building before entering into a 12-ish week training plan for NYC. I've devised a "plan" to do so, based on some Hadd stuff, a typical week of 60-ish miles looking like this (mins @ HR):

60 @ 145 75 @ 160 60 @ 145 inc 30 @ 145 90 @ 145-150 85 @ 160 75 @ 140-150 120 @ 155

Hadd suggests doing a test of sorts as a way to monitor if all the sub-aerobic training is working. It basically involves running a series of 2400 meter intervals at increasing HRs: 140, 150, 160, 170, 180 with 90 seconds of rest in between. I think I'll plan on doing this sometime next week. This week my mileage should be at least 40, if not 45, and as long as I still feel rested and raring to go, this should be good timing.

I think it's going to be a challenge keeping myself in those zones, but I think it's a good way for my body to happily accept building up some mileage in order to hopefully get into a training plan next fall that peaks at 75-80 mpw. That being said, my legs are feeling absolutely awesome as I've been keeping my AHR below 155 on my recent runs. I'm at higher mileage post-marathon than I have been in the past, even though I took an entire week off. I can feel myself chomping at the bit sometimes, especially on gorgeous days like today when I'm being passed by people in the park and have to keep my competitive side at bay, but I think it will be good for me. It will also be a perfect way for me to have a plan that's flexible enough for me to do the "whenever, wherever" runs I don't get during a marathon training plans - at such low heart rates, adding miles when I feel good isn't such a disaster! I'm excited about this little experiment and to see how I feel during it!

Friday, April 29, 2011

30 for 30

Hello family and friends!

As many of you know, I'm turning 30 on June 20th. As fewer of you may know, I am running the Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, MN on June 18th. Due to its proximity to my birthday, I thought it would be fun (yes, fun) to add on 3.8 miles to the normal 26.2 of the marathon to run 30 miles for 30 years.

Until now, running marathons has always been a very personal and almost selfish thing. Through that, all of you have offered me more encouragement and support than I could possible imagine. I hope to transfer that to something bigger than me. While the 30 for 30 milestone is a huge one for me, I also know that I'm so lucky to be able to do so and that I can use this opportunity to give something back to people whose lives are changed in an instant.

I have decided to raise money for the charity ShelterBox in honor of my "30 miles for 30 years" run at this year's Grandma's Marathon.

ShelterBox is an amazing organization that I learned about a few years ago during my time with the Rotaract Club at the UN in NYC. They provide boxes that supply up to 10 people with temporary shelter and essential supplies after displacement due to natural disasters. You can learn all about their mission and the incredible work they've done at http://www.shelterbox.org/.

The cost of one such box is $1000, which is my fundraising goal. You can link directly to my fundraising page at the following website:

I know everyone is watching their pennies these days, but please consider donating to ShelterBox as part of your tax-deductible charity budget this year.

Again, thanks for your donation and I - and ShelterBox and the hundreds of thousands of families they have already helped - appreciate for your support.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Boston 2011

Following my 3:18 marathon in January, my plan was to add 2 easy weeks onto Pfitz’s 12-weeks-between-marathon plan and basically decide along the way what my time goal would be. I had never done two marathons in such close succession before, so I wanted to stay tuned to my body to figure out if it would let me actually race Boston for time rather than just to finish.
And just like that, life gets in the way of the most well-laid plans. For the first 6 weeks, I was still in Israel but running through a broken heart. For the second 6 weeks, I was running in Tucson and just trying to check off the miles, the one thing I could really control. Needless to say, I had none of my usual fitness gauges along the way. There were no tune-up races I could get to easily. I couldn’t tell based on how I felt at certain paces on my familiar routes how good of shape I was in because there were no familiar routes. I was a mental mess during any and all track workouts. My one MP workout was done into a wall of 30 mph wind gusts. But I got the miles in. I felt healthy. By the time I started my taper, I figured I hadn’t lost any fitness, but that I wouldn’t be able to count on much of a PR. Initially, a 3:15 goal entered into my head when I knew several other RWOLers wanted to meet that goal, and it was a nice round number. It had nothing to do with what I thought I could do. But, it gave me a goal off which to design my gmaclin pace band, and a group to start with in the corrals. It also gave me some extra pre-race discipline and another reason to get excited, in addition to the prospect of ending my self-imposed life quarantine and hanging out with all my imaginary, but oh-so-real, RWOL friends.
Race Weekend
The social aspect of the Boston marathon has to be included in any race report. I am lucky to share such a strong camaraderie with folks from all over the world through the RWOL Boston Forums. I had met many over the past 2 years, but even more remained “imaginary” until this weekend. I had a blast being GoAnnie’s roommate, drinking too much beer on Friday with the infamous instigators iRun, and welshgirl – although CGruett, RD, bird, vitadolce, Kari, KJ, AlaskaWrestler, and dcv were certainly not hard to convince. 
Saturday meant more gallivanting with forumites at the Expo, at the mall, and in the North End for dinner. And, of course, at the Beerworks party. It’s great to be able to jump right over the silly small talk and feel comfortable with people you’ve technically never met! I met IndyNate and MichRunR, who were two of my 3:15-or-bust group. I got to meet Lap’d on Sunday morning, and I knew we’d have a great little group of runners together! 

Sunday morning I did a 3-mile shakeout run with the Aussie-load sprint routine, followed by 1.5 servings of UltraFuel over the next hour or so. Sunday was pretty low-key, and after a small and early dinner with the ladies on Sunday night, it was back to the hotel to get organized and relax with The 40 Year Old Virgin on tv and an early bedtime.

Race Day
I was up at 4:45 to meet a small group of runners at the hotel who wanted to be on the first busses at 6:00. I felt pretty well-rested and energetic and definitely in a good mood. 

We were some of the first to get to the red dot, where the time passed incredibly quickly between securing the paceband, bib, sunscreen, BodyGlide, ponytail, gels, hat, bladder control, etc. etc. 

I had 3 servings of UltraFuel that I had finished by about 7:00. I had done the UltraFuel routine before long runs in the past, so the slight unsettled feeling in my stomach wasn’t a surprise and didn’t worry me. Before we knew it, it was time for the 3:15 group to head to the corrals! Once we got in the corrals, we noticed we were next to Rock and Tadpole, and the time passed quickly joking around and keeping the mood light. It took several minutes to get to the starting line after the gun went off, and I found it amusing that people started to jog before actually crossing the starting line, only to be forced to stop and walk again. I had my paceband set for a slow start and a moderate fade, giving me paces ranging from 7:45 (first mile and Heartbreak) to 7:12 (yikes). I figured I’d stick to it as closely as possible the first half, see what happened on the hills, and then just gut it out the last 5 miles. And we were off!

Oh yeah, there was running
Miles 1-5: Getting in the groove (7:50/7:32/7:15/7:25/7:30).
All the paces were really close, +/- 5 seconds. There was a lot of dodging, but the group all stayed in sight. I could tell that Nate was behind me even if I couldn’t see him because of the cheers – he had his name written in large letters on his shirt. At some point fairly early, Lap’d remarked that the pace seemed slow. I said that was a good thing, and she slowly but surely pulled ahead to her eventual 3:13 finish. We ran into Jonathan A pretty early on, who also went on to an awesome PR.

I felt pretty smooth and confident during these miles, and didn’t feel much early-mile creaking or tightness. I was alternating water and Gatorade and took a gel at mile 5. My stomach churned a bit but nothing too serious. I wanted to be diligent about fluids because it was hot enough that it would be a potential problem if I didn’t.

Miles 6-11: Dialing in (7:23/7:24/7:25/7:24/7:27/7:29).
This is the one portion of the race where a groove is at all possible. According to my splits through here, I was definitely there. There were some awesome crowds around 8-9 who advertised they were drunk already. A sign for a shortcut was actually not tempting, although humorous. I just wanted to keep feeling this way until Newton. Strong and steady. The only bad part through here was my first though about peeling off for a bathroom, but decided to stick to mostly water instead of Gatorade and thought I’d be fine. Another Gu at mile 11. Almost to Wellesley, and Nate and I were still leapfrogging and together.

Miles 12-16: Feeling it (7:18/7:29/7:19/7:27/7:10).
I cruised through the Wellesley scream tunnel, blowing kisses, but reminding myself to rein it in and not let myself get too pumped up from the crowd. I was successful, but definitely started noticing how tired my quads already were. I also noticed I stopped hearing Nate’s name and realized I had lost him. I hit the half in 1:37.47, perfectly on for an even-split 3:15. The state of my legs really had me worried what Newton would bring and I struggled here a bit mentally. I remember looking down at my paceband before mile 16 and cursing about the 7:12 pace it had for me. Surprisingly, I pushed through it, glaring at the “Entering Newton” sign as I passed. I had a lot of work to do the next 5 miles.

Miles 17-21: Hello, hills (7:33/7:41/7:21/7:42/8:00).
When I ran Boston 2 years ago, I remember being challenged by the hills but not killed by them. Not so this year. I basically just needed to get up and over them without stopping, paceband be damned. I was pretty rejected when I saw that 8:00 split, but considering how I felt trying to get up Heartbreak, it could have been a lot worse. I knew the last 5 miles were going to be painful. But, they would be painful if I was running 7:30 or 9:00, so I knew I just had to endure.

Miles 22-25: Who needs quads, anyway? (7:20/7:36/7:24/7:41)
The paceband had been ripped off. I knew looking at the goal paces wouldn’t actually do anything for my paces: it was all heart at this point. My quads were screaming, my stomach was noticeably queasy, and I just had to press on and run. I let the crowds pull me through, and did notice I was passing people even though I felt like I was plodding along. I tried to focus on my form, even though it was shot to hell. Anytime anyone yelled “looking strong, Erin,” my first thought was to scoff, “yeah, right” but used it to at least pretend I was having a strong finish. I blindly hit the lap button on my Garmin without checking my splits, knowing I’d probably have a PR but the 3:15 would probably be just out of reach. At some point that last mile, Rock flew by me, telling me to look for Sully and “let’s do this!” Then, the Citgo sign appeared (although, seriously, who put that hill there this year?!) and I knew I was in the home stretch and just needed to hold on.

Mile 26.2: Down-up-right-up(?!)-left-----------finish (7:37/1:36[6:50 pace]) 3:16.32/26.41 miles
No offense Sully, but a cannoli would have made me puke. Looking for the cannoli would have made me puke. Doing anything but getting to the finish line would have made me puke. So, I got myself there. There was no kick. I am convinced the hill on Hereford did not exist before. I am convinced the course was stretched between the turn onto Boylston and the finish. I knew every step was bringing me closer, but it was like one of those nightmares where the finish kept moving away as I ran towards it. Mean tricks the mind plays. But then, I realized I had to position myself away from the dudes around me to be visible in my finish line photo. That I wouldn’t get the 3:15 but I would get a nice PR. That Rock was hanging out on the other side of the finish line with a big, sweaty hug. That Sailrun saw me from the back and served as my Gatorade-grabber and post-race analyst. That lifting my knees up caused my hipflexors to scream. That my GI tract needed a bathroom, stat (or, as it turned out, Guinness and a cannoli at Jury’s). 

And then, it was onto the party! Three cheers for good friends!

Post-race thoughts
I forgot how hard Boston is. I only momentarily and very temporarily felt in a groove, where I had hit a pace I could hold all day. This course does not allow that – there is constant adjustment and readjustment of pace and effort. Looking at my average HR of 172, I know I was on the low end of where I should be for a marathon. What limited me? Was it mental? Was it the quad-trashing? I am convinced I couldn’t have found another 1:30 on the course that day. I’m also convinced I can run faster. I think the positives of the UF outweighed its apparent affect on my tummy, since it wasn't so bad at the end and I never hit the wall, but I'll have to play around more with amounts and timing. It has me mulling over my training plan for the summer before NYC in November. Do I stick with Pfitz? Do I use Daniels in order to bump the mileage up a bit (but not as much as the next Pfitz jump would be)? Do I do more long, slow base-building or focus on speed? In the meantime, I’m giving myself a bit of time to just run, even though I have my 30-miler on June 18th to finish.

I signed up for Boston not knowing what role it would play in my life. It gave me a goal, a purpose, and a transition from one point of my life to another. Maybe it will also serve as a transition in my running life as well, as I think about what my new goals and purposes will be.